Why Paid Parental Leave Is An Investment In Your Workforce

Molly McIlvaine our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 24 January 2022

Since having a family is something that billions of people around the globe choose to do during their lifetime, many countries take the social responsibility of providing for new parents and their children by offering paid parental leave.

 

Alternatively, employers themselves will often factor allowances into their benefit packages, ensuring positive health for both parents and baby, and allowing them to maintain their home/work lifestyle.

Paid parental leave - including for adoption, fostering, surrogacy, etc. - has a tangible effect on not only the mental, physical and financial health of new parents, but also on the productivity, profits and turnover of the business that employs them.

What are the benefits of paid parental leave?

There are many reasons paid parental leave is good for business. The most significant is that it allows you to avoid costly staff turnover expenditure. Replacing employees is expensive, time-consuming and often leads to skilled workers completing tasks that aren’t within their roles.

 

Secondly, by implementing paid parental leave, you’ll be taking steps to ensure a more diverse workforce and promote gender equality. This also raises a strong case for allowing your paid leave to be taken by employees of any gender, regardless of whether the child is biologically theirs. By doing so, you’ll be welcoming a diverse pool of talent and therefore strengthening your overall skillset. This is particularly prominent in cases of adoption, same-sex relationships and non-binary couples.

 

Following on from that point, having a paid parental leave policy in place will make you more attractive for prospective talent. This doesn’t just necessarily mean talent who are planning to have children one day, but also talent who are looking for an organisation that genuinely cares about its people.


Paid parental leave - quick stats

  • 55% of women in the US are mothers of children under the age of 18 who are working full-time 
  • Despite this, the US is one of only eight countries in the world that doesn’t have state-mandated paid maternity leave 
  • In a recent survey by Fortune, Cisco was found to be the number one employer in 2021. They provide 13 consecutive weeks of paid bonding leave for the baby’s main caregiver, with four weeks’ paid time off for any supporting caregiver, such as a spouse or partner. New moms back at work have a dedicated “mothers’ room” - a private space with refrigerators, WiFi and outlets for breast pumps. There’s also the option to place children in an on-site LifeConnections Learning Center or a local Cisco-preferred child-care center. Other top companies to work for have similar policies in place.

How does the US compare with Europe?

In 2017, research carried out by UCLA discovered that out of the 195 recognized countries across the world, 187 of those offered paid maternity leave, and over 90 offered paid paternity leave. Despite being a high-income nation, America does not have a national paid leave plan in place. So how does this compare with our European neighbors?

In the UK, paid maternity leave has been a legal requirement since 1975. Now, statutory maternity pay is paid for up to 39 weeks. There are also regulations covering paid paternity leave and shared parental leave.

In terms of the best paid leave for new parents in Europe, Estonia leads the way. Mothers in Estonia are entitled to 140 days of fully paid pregnancy and maternity leave. Fathers have two weeks of paid time off. When maternity leave ends, parents have a further 435 days off that they can share.

Recognised as the happiest country in the world for four years running, Finland offers all parents leave, irrespective of gender or whether they are the biological parents. As of 2021, each parent can take approximately seven months of leave - and a single parent can take the amount of two parents.

It’s clear to me that the US needs to step up, for the sake of both parents’ and children’s health and for our workforce.


If you’d like to talk through updating your parental leave benefits to make your company more attractive to high-performing talent, feel free to get in touch with me today.

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